Tuesday, December 6, 2011

German Pfeffernusse (Pepper Nut) Cookies

It's always fun to make traditional cookies that have been in the family for years.  This is my grandmother's Pfeffernusse cookie recipe.  The Pfeffernusse cookie is a German pepper nut cookie containing several spices such as allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon along with anise extract that makes a tasty cookie that goes wonderfully with tea or coffee.  This is a well known Christmas cookie among Germans. 

I crave these now every Christmas.  I couldn't wait to get my batch made for the holidays!   One batch makes approximately 100 cookies and these will last all month on the kitchen counter in an airtight container.  They actually taste (get this) BETTER after sitting on the counter for a few weeks.  

Follow along as I show you how to make these tasty, spiced Christmas cookies:

German Pfeffernusse Cookies
*Recipe from Grandma (Betty Hall) - Originally from Recipes of the Black Sea Germans
1 1/2 cups honey
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter or lard
3 eggs
3/4 cup black coffee (regular or decaf)
1/2 teaspoon anise extract
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
8 cups flour
Powdered sugar and milk for frosting

 In a medium saucepan, heat the honey, butter and sugar until well combined.  Cool.
When mixture is cooled, pour in a large mixing bowl and add the coffee, anise extract, spices (pepper, soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice), and eggs.
 Beat until well combined.
 Slowly begin to add flour.
 Mix until well combined and all flour has been incorporated.  Cover and chill dough for 1 hour in refrigerator. 
 After chilled, form dough into long rolls about 1 inch in diameter.  Wrap in waxed paper to keep from drying.
 Store rolls in refrigerator overnight (or start dough in morning and bake in late afternoon).
 Remove rolls from fridge one at a time.  Slice into 3/4 inch cookies.
 Bake on a slightly greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees F. for 13-15 minutes or until slightly brown but fairly soft.
 Move to cooling racks.
 There are a few ways to frost these, as I'll show you below, but to prepare the powdered sugar frosting combine 2 cups powdered sugar with 3 tablespoons milk.  Mix well until smooth and runny.  You may need to make more frosting as you go.
If you want a cookie with a sweet hard shell that gives your cookie a crunch, place cookies into the frosting bowl and spoon frosting over top.  Place on cooling racks to allow excess frosting to drip off, then place in a large bag filled with powdered sugar.  Shake and remove cookies to waxed paper.  Or you can spoon frosting onto the tops of cookies (not covering entire cookie) and then place in powdered sugar to shake.  Or just skip the frosting and put the cookies directly into the powdered sugar and shake.  
 I like to frost my cookies each way.  I like the sweetness and crunchiness of the frosted cookies but I also love the simplicity of the plain powdered sugar cookies that focuses on the flavor of the cookie!  Try them all!
 Store in airtight containers at room temperature.  These last several weeks and taste better with time.


tennillewj said...

I love these!!!

floranista said...

Thanks so much for this recipe, I'm really looking forward to trying them. Can you tell me if you use instant coffee or regular?

Nicole said...

Floranista, Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I used regular coffee, black. Hope you like it! We absolutely love these!

floranista said...

Sorry about that deletion, my comment had several errors, oops.

Thank you so much, Nicole! It might not make a big difference but I wanted to follow your recipe exactly (except I will cut it in half as it's just for my husband and myself).

I'm enjoying looking at the other recipes and will definitely let you know how these cookies turn out :-)

Nicole said...

I hope yours turned out great! I make these every year now and I can't wait for Christmas to make them again! It's become a tradition at my house.

jarvan said...

My mom just made these for my husband and we are in love! I looked at a lot of recipes and want to use your true German family recipe! We don't drink any coffee, so I wondered if you might have a suggestion of a substitute? Thanks!

Nicole said...

@jarvan, one of the things that makes these taste authentic is the coffee, so I wouldn't omit it entirely, but instead you could try an instant coffee if you don't have a coffee maker. That's all I can think of. I am a coffee drinker, but I do know of a few people who keep an inexpensive coffee maker around the house for when guests come to visit or when baking requires it. You don't need a fancy brand of coffee, any black coffee would do (caffinated or not). Hope this helps.

Nicole said...

@Jarvan, one more thing I just thought of, run down the street to McDonalds (or what ever you have close) and buy a cup of coffee to use in your baking (decaf if you like):) Then you don't have to buy a maker, plus beans.

jarvan said...

Thanks for your reply! Can't wait to try them!

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